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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Two Rivers

Sometimes one's thinking changes.

The elderly gentleman made his way up the platform stairs gingerly nursing two sore knees and two sore hips.  Time had begun to ask for its dues.  He approached the pulpit.  He felt out of place.  The pastor had asked if anyone had something to share.  “Something maybe longer than a testimony, but shorter that sermon,” he had said.  The older man stood awkwardly for a moment looking at the audience.  Thirty people were scattered in the auditorium built for two hundred.  He knew the pastor was searching for something to draw people to this dying church.  Maybe this was exactly what the people needed, something to inspire them to be there.  
“I want you to tell you about two Bills,” the old man began.  He tried to keep his volume up to give himself more confidence.  After all, his eighth-grade speech teacher had told them when he was a student, ‘If you have to say, say it loudly.  Let me hear it!’
“The first Bill is Billy Graham,” he began.  “For the younger ones in the audience, Billy Graham was a Baptist Evangelist who held tent meeting and the later traveled the United States holding huge Crusades in various cities.  His crusades were given the name the Hour of Decision.  He even preached here in our local high school gymnasium.  Later his crusades were televised.  Thousands of people would respond to the altar call to come forward to be saved.
“Billy’s sermons were spot on.  I caught a few of his talks on TV.  He’d say, ‘One is born a sinner and needs a savior.  Jesus is that savior who died for our sins and arose the third day to prove who he was, the son of God.  All one has to do is come forward, repent of that sin and accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.”  I wondered as a young teen as thousands responded to the altar call, why didn’t the world change.  Everything seemed to remain the same.
The other Bill is a fellow I worked with at the country club outside of town.  We were on the maintenance crew on the golf course.  There were maybe ten part-time high school students at the beginning of the summer.  We mowed grass, weeded sand traps, and watered.  By the fourth of July there only five of us left.  We were sent out to police up the area after the fireworks the night before.  We partnered by twos even the regulars had to pick up the residue of paper and trash that had sailed over the number one and 18th holes.  Bill and I were put together.  It was a gray, cold overcast day; everyone was wearing sweatshirts and jackets.  I had grabbed my winter coat before leaving for work and thought as we headed out, it was going to be too hot.  Oddly, I felt comfortable. I never like working with Bill because he always bragged about his exploits of the weekend before.  He began, “My girlfriend and I went to Ohio.”  
I thought, “Okay, here we go.” 
He went on.  “We went to a Billy Graham Crusade.”
“Really, how did that go?” I asked.
“We went forward, and I got saved,” he said, and then he shared the gospel with me.”  Suddenly we heard an explosion.  Bill and I were the only ones to run towards it.  Jim, another part-time high school kid, found what they called an M-5.  It looked like four sticks of dynamite each the size of a man’s small finger tied together.  He lit it with his cigarette lighter and had blown off his two fingers and thumb on his right hand.  Everyone else ran away from him.  Bill and I led him to the maintenance shed where the superintendent and the assistant were.  
Joe, the assistant said, “Does anyone know how to get to the Elkhart General Hospital?”
“Yeah, I do,” I said.  My mother had had her leg amputated that summer, and I had spent a lot of time there.
“Get in the truck!” Joe yelled.  
Joe took off with Bill between us. I then said, “He’s losing a lot of blood!”
“Well, do something! I’m not a doctor!”  I put my hanky around his arm and twisted like a tourniquet.  Jim was in so much pain he kicked the windshield and put a big crack right down the middle in it.  We got to emergency and the doctors took over, and Joe and I left, but the next day after work I went to see Jim.  His parents were there in his room, and they thanked me for being there for Jim.  Jim said, “I guess I won’t be going to the Marines this fall.”  That’s all he had talked about since I had met him.  “I want to thank you and Bill for helping me,” he said.
I left then, but the next week the entire part-time high school workers were laid off.  I then lost contact with Bill and Jim.
February 27, 2018, Billy Graham died.  I thought of this experience when I heard of his death.  And, I got to thinking, this world was a better place because Billy Graham had lived and had his Crusades.  The Bill who I had worked with proved that to me that day.

Submitted: June 30, 2018

© Copyright 2021 DannyDee. All rights reserved.

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